Chinese tariffs on US soybean exports have now kicked in, with China half the US soybean market, and exports much more important for soybeans than for corn, with the US producing half the world’s corn, but exporting less of it than soybeans. Upshot is that while soybean prices have fallen roughly 20% since Trump started his trade war, corn prices have fallen noticeably less.
Recognizing that soybeans are very important in some key pro-Trump states like Iowa, North Dakota, and Indiana, he has promised to provide aid for them, even as he has at times said that the victims of his trade war will be “patriotic” and continue to support him, even as they lose their jobs, farms, businesses. Googling suggests that he has himself has not followed through on supporting his damaged soybean farmer supporters, but in fact the situation is unclear.
I have made my annual visit with my old friend who is an Indiana farmer, among other things. He is glad that he planted more corn than soybeans this year, given that corn prices have fallen so much less than have those of soybeans. But he tells me that even though the internet says Trump has done nothing to follow up on his promises to help out the soybean farmers, there is a new USDA program to provide some sort of assistance to soybean farmers. He has signed up for it, but so far has received no clear information of what is going to come out of it.
As near as I can tell what this might be is a resurrection by somebody at USDA inspired by Trump of the old Commodity Credit Corporation programs that date back to the Great Depression and are still on the books. I do not know if this is the case or not, but it is hard to see what else it might be. As it is, my friend is curious and hoping to get some assistance, but whether any will actually be forthcoming, much less how much or to what degree Trump actually has anything to do with it specifically, remains up in the air, as does so much else about the Great New Trade War of Donald J. Trump.